Republicans press budget fight over immigration

Republicans press budget fight over immigration 

Posted: 11:29 am Thursday, November 13th, 2014

By Jamie Dupree

Even before President Obama has issued executive actions on immigration, Republicans in the Congress are calling for the approval of a plan to block the Obama Administration from granting work permits and green cards for people in the United States illegally.

“Unfortunately, since the president seems intent on bypassing the people’s representatives in Congress, we must do the only thing we can and exercise our power of the purse,” said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), one of a number of GOP lawmakers who sent a letter demanding budget restrictions on any immigration executive orders.

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), showcases the desire of some GOP lawmakers to have a budget showdown – maybe in coming weeks – over the President’s executive moves on immigration.

Here is the text of the letter sent to the House Appropriations Committee on this immigration matter:

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey,

As the House continues to deliberate and draft appropriations legislation before the current continuing resolution expires on December 12, 2014, we write to encourage you to include language that would prohibit funding for the President’s reported intentions to create work permits and green cards for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

There are currently millions of undocumented immigrants living within our borders. Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a procurement request for 34 million work permits and green cards over the next five years. President Obama has spoken publicly and privately about his intentions to use executive action to create these work permits for those who are here illegally. This would be in direct violation of U.S. law. As you know, the Congress has the power of the purse and should use it as a tool to prevent the President from implementing policies that are contrary to our laws and the desire of the American people.

We respectfully request that as you work to finalize the year-end funding legislation that language be included in all relevant appropriations legislation for FY 2015 to prohibit the use of funds by the administration for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside of the scope prescribed by Congress. We thank you for your efforts with this legislation and for your consideration of this important request.

Over 50 Republicans have signed on to this letter, as this battle over immigration executive actions – which haven’t even been rolled out – begins to percolate even more within GOP circles on Capitol Hill.

As for when the announcement might come from the Obama Administration, the New York Times reported on Thursday that it could be “as soon as next week” – a Fox News report from Wednesday said much the same thing about timing.

Congress seems likely to be in town next week until Thursday, November 20, when lawmakers will break for Thanksgiving and return the week of December 1.

Boehner won’t rule out government shutdown fight

While GOP leaders have shied away from a budget battle over immigration executive actions, Speaker John Boehner did not specifically rule that out as he met with reporters on Thursday afternoon.

“We’re going to fight the President tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” the Speaker said, emphasizing repeatedly that “all options are on the table.”

“This is the wrong way to govern,” the Speaker concluded.

The Speaker also seemed to leave open the possibility of other GOP retaliation against the President on other budget items – as both sides gear up for what could be a major political showdown on immigration and executive actions.